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Life and Doctrine of Saint Catherine of Genoa
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CHAPTER XXX

Of her compunction for having desired death, every desire being an imperfection.—She relates her conversion to one of her spiritual children.

In the year 1507, while present at the office for the dead, she felt a desire to die. It was a desire of the soul that it might quit the body and be united with God. The body also desired it, that it might be freed from the torment which it suffered from the flames of love in the soul; these however, were only natural desires, to which her will gave no consent.

And as her desire was inspired by her Love who wished to purify her, and not from her will, as soon as she felt it, she suddenly exclaimed: “O Love, I desire nothing but thee, and in thy own way: but if it please thee, who dost not wish that I should die, neither that I should desire death, let me at least be present at the death and burial of others, that I may see in them that blessedness that is not bestowed on me.” Love consented to this, and for some time she was present at the death and burial of all those who died in the hospital, without any desire to die herself. And by degrees, the union of love increasing in that purified heart, she lost the desire to see others die, but still, whenever she spoke of death, she seemed filled with a new and joyful emotion.

At one time when she fell into ecstasies, and appeared as if dead, the persons around her, who did not understand her state, believed her to be suffering from what is commonly called vertigo. She herself, through humility and a desire to be unnoticed, on speaking of it to a religious, also called it vertigo: but the religious answered: “Mother, you need not use concealment with me: I entreat you for the honor and glory of God, to choose some person who will be satisfactory to you, and narrate to him the graces with which God has favored you, that when you are gone these graces may not remain hidden and unknown, and the praise and glory of God arising from them be lost.” To which she answered: “It shall be as you wish, if it is the will of my sweet Love;” and she would choose no other than himself who had given her this counsel, although she knew it would be impossible for her to narrate the smallest part of those interior communications between God and the soul; and of the exterior, she had experienced almost nothing.

At another time, in conversation with the same religious, she began to narrate her conversion and many other things, as well as she could, which have been faithfully collected and introduced into the present volume.

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